This easy homemade focaccia flavoured with basil pesto is the perfect side dish for pasta, risotto or salad.
The dough can be made by hand, or in a mixer if you prefer, and the end result is a deliciously soft bread with a crispy golden top. Just how focaccia should be!
Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, with the dough being made in a similar way to pizza (it's sometimes referred to pizza bianca). We absolutely love focaccia in this house and my 13 year old regularly bakes one to have alongside our favourite pasta dishes. It's a great bread for soaking up sauces and for dipping too.
✔️ Why should you try it?
- Easy to make
- Helps bulk out meals
- Freezes well
- Lots of different flavour toppings to try
- Strong Bread Flour - ensures the bread has a lovely chewy texture due to the gluten in the flour.
- Salt - flavours the bread and I strongly recommend using sea salt flakes.
- Sugar - 1 teaspoon of caster sugar.
- Yeast - helps the bread rise and for ease, I used fast action dry yeast.
- Water - tepid water is needed to activate the yeast.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - adding olive oil to the dough (and not just drizzled on as a topping) ensures a rich and flavourful bread.
- Pesto - I top the focaccia with my fresh basil pesto for the last few minutes of cooking, but any store-bought pesto would work just as well.
- Parmesan - a little grated parmesan sprinkled on for the last few minutes of baking, gives the bread a lovely golden crust.
- Basil leaves - an optional extra but look so pretty.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post
One: Place the strong bread flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together. In a separate bowl or jug mix the yeast and sugar with 325ml of tepid water. Add the yeast water and olive oil to the flour mix and bring together with your hands.
Two: Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes (you can also use a mixer with dough attachment if you prefer). Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film.
Three: Leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place (it should have doubled in size).
Four: Lightly oil a baking sheet and push the dough out with your hands, so the dough spreads over the baking tin. There is no need to use a rolling pin here. Leave to rise for 40 minutes covered with a clean tea towel. Make finger indentations into the dough and bake for 15 minutes at 220°c (200 fan). Take out of the oven and drizzle over the pesto, sprinkle over the grated Parmesan and sea salt and bake for a further 5-8 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with more extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top.
🍴 Serving suggestions
Bread is a great way of bulking out pasta dishes and filling those bottomless tummies kids seem to have. Why not try it alongside my marmite spaghetti, easy cheesy pasta, creamy bacon and pumpkin pasta or even my chicken and broccoli pasta bake? It's also a great side for risotto too!
The list of potential focaccia toppings is endless, but here are a few more of my favourites;
- Fresh Rosemary
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Sliced Red Onion
🧊 Suitable for freezing?
Did you know it's possible to freeze the uncooked focaccia dough! Once the dough is risen, knock the air out of it, roll into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap that has been smeared with olive oil. Defrost the dough in the fridge, then bring it back to room temperature before pressing into a tin and baking.
The cooked focaccia can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to cool completely before wrapping in cling film and foil and placing in the freezer.
The word is derived from the Latin focus 'hearth, place for baking'. Many historians believe that focaccia was born with the Etruscans of North Central Italy in the days before the Roman Empire, although some people contest it was long before this in Ancient Greece at the beginning of the first millennium
This is usually due to out of date yeast. Check the best before date on the packet before using.
Focaccia, like all fresh breads, is best eaten on the day it's made. Any leftovers can be wrapped tightly and stored in the fridge. Refresh in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months
Some more great bread recipes to try;
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- 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
- 1½ teaspoon Salt
- 325 ml Tepid Water
- 1 teaspoon Caster Sugar
- 7 g Fast Action Yeast
- 2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5 tablespoon Pesto
- 30 g Parmesan grated
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt Flakes
- 10 Basil leaves
- 2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
- Place the strong bread flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
- In a separate bowl or jug mix the yeast and sugar with 325ml of tepid water and leave to stand for a few minutes. Add the yeast water and olive oil to the flour mix and bring together with your hands.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes (you can also use a mixer with dough attachment if you prefer). Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film.
- Leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place (it should have doubled in size).
- Preheat the oven to 220°c (200 fan/ 425F/ Gas 7).
- Lightly oil a baking sheet and push the dough out with your hands, so the dough spreads over the baking tin. There is no need to use a rolling pin here. Leave to rise for 40 minutes covered with a clean tea towel.
- Make finger indentations into the dough and bake for 15 minutes at 220°c (200 fan). Take out of the oven and drizzle over the pesto, sprinkle over the grated Parmesan and sea salt and return to the oven for a further 5-8 minutes.
- Serve with fresh basil leaves and more olive oil.
- Freezing Information: After the dough rises, punch it down to release the air. Freeze the dough. Lightly coat a large piece of clingfilm with olive oil and wrap the dough ball making sure you squeeze out all the air. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in a fridge and allow to return to room temperature before shaping the dough into the baking tin.
- The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
I'm linking this recipe up to #CookBlogShare which this week is hosted by Sew White.